I am back in Boston for the Deutsche Bank, the second of the Play-off events. Last year was my first year playing here and unfortunately I missed the cut, after which last I pulled out of the BMW and went home for a rest as I was suffering with everything I had done since winning the 2007 Open. This year I have learnt from my mistakes and have not done anywhere near as much as I did last year.
After missing the cut last week I have dropped well down the FedEx Cup rankings and I am now in danger of missing out on the Tour Championship. I started out last week in fourth place and by missing the cut I dropped 19 places to 23rd. There are three events left in the play-offs before the FedEx Cup winner is crowned; it looks like I am definitely in next week but I need to play well over the next two weeks to make sure that I qualify for the final event and give myself a chance of winning the FedEx. With the new system there is certainly much more volatility, it has taken a lot of people by surprise the way it worked out last week. Most of the players didn’t really know how the points worked once we got to the play-offs; it has definitely put a much bigger emphasis on performing in the last four events and not as much about the regular season.
I arrived here on Monday evening and took it very easy on Tuesday; just a couple of hour’s short game practice was all I managed. As I have played the course before I was happy not to play it on Tuesday. I played 16 holes on Wednesday, I would have played the full 18 only I had to do my press conference and have a couple of photos taken before it. I skipped the 14th and 15th holes and went straight to the par three 16th, joined a group there and put my eight iron in the hole for an ace! Just what you want, to make a hole in one in practice! As the tournament starts on Friday this week it meant the pro-am was on Thursday, then afterwards I did a small amount of practice. I find the pro-am very useful as I am only able to play one ball and it means that I have to put the ball in the hole in competitive conditions.
This is my second year here and there have been only a few minor changes to the course, it still measures in excess of 7,400 yards and plays as a par 71. The good thing is that it is firm and the ball is running quite a bit so it doesn’t seem that long. Even though they made some changes to the course over the years to try and make it suit more players it is still heavily weighted towards the players that can hit 300 yards or more. In general this event is contested by long hitters, last year it was won by Phil with Tiger and Brett Wetterich in contention.
The course is playing very similar to last year; hard and fast, which suits the guys that can the shortest club on the ball as the greens are also very firm. It will be very hard to come into some of these greens with long irons but yet there is plenty of trouble on the course for anyone that is spraying their driver. Three of the holes that I think will add to the excitement on Monday evening are the fourth, seventeenth and eighteenth.
The 4th is a short par four. It is 287 yards to the front of the green; it is easily reachable but it is well bunkered and the green slopes away from you. It is definitely a birdie hole but in trying to make birdie you can easily end up making a bogey.
The 17th is a 412 yard par four with a funky green; it has a big mound in the middle of the green that you don’t want to be putting over. It doesn’t play a driver off the tee as the fairway runs out at 300 yards, it is merely a position shot and then a short club to try and set up a birdie.
The 18th is a 528 yard par five that is reachable in two, however it has a number of fairway bunkers that are well positioned and it also has a hazard short of the green so anything short will end up in the hazard. It is a good chance for a birdie but equally you can make a six on it without hitting that bad a shot. There will be plenty of excitement on these two holes during the week.
As ever I am looking to get myself into position for the final round so that I have a chance to win with nine holes to go. One of the hardest things about these play-offs is that everyone is talking about the Fed Ex Cup and nearly forgetting about the tournament that we are playing. It is important to concentrate on this week’s event, The Deutsche Bank, and worry about the Fed Ex Cup at the end of the play-offs. I am playing with Jerry Kelly and Hunter Mahan this week; 8.22 am Thursday and 1.07 pm Friday, local time.
The other big distraction this week is that it is the final week for European Ryder Cup team selection. Gladly I have place secured and so I can sit back and watch the excitement unfold as regards the last few spots and the Captain’s picks.